Produce, Consume or Relay

02Mar10

There are a lot of more detailed real-life experiences in the pipeline, slipping through the fingers down memory (loss) lane, but this is a quick post on the immediate thought that came as to why blogging is taking a back seat.
When it comes to online content, esp. blogging, we interact with it in the three ways that make up the title of this post. Produce, consume or relay.

Producers and consumers have been there long since blogging platforms and RSS aggregators have become popular tools. Although there are more consumers than producers when it comes to content published online, RSS aggregators have only become popular lately with web-based solutions. Each one of us transform easily from one role to another, though in order of efforts and degree of sharing consumers follow relay-ers (err, u get the idea) who in turn follow producers. Producing and consuming information has been there since web 1.0, since the mainstream media, so to say, however relaying information is a way of involving consumers in the promotion of the producer’s content. This is only recently popularized by social networks and more importantly twitter. Although social bookmarking tools have been there for years now, its only with twitter that consumers are more interested in turning to relayers with the click of a retweet button.

So what worries me about the different roles that web users play with regards to online content? Unoriginality…and use of some tool for some other purpose. These are worries that pertain to not just myself alone. Being a blogger/producer it always feels bad to let a weekend go by without a new post, though I’ve the ideas to blog about. At the same time, being a blogger sharing ideas that are of potential interest to users’ networks that I’m entangled in, its hard to just consume and move on and instead I end up relaying stuff I read, which means taking additional time to post the link to social networks, generate a shortlink to add my comment, and take time to trim my msg to fit exactly 140 characters beyond the time taken to consume or read the article.
Its a good thing there’s ping.fm but ping.fm is 2 characters more than is.gd and the network on facebook and twitter definitely differs, so there is time taken to decide which posts are shared where.
What also bothers me besides the fact that I spend more time relaying/promoting other producers’ content is the useless thrill of having those posts, re-posted or re-tweeted, even though there is not a single line of my own content in the link to be proudly promoting it.

Twitter and facebook are examples of tools that are not better suited for the purpose they are heavily used for but due to public demand (majority of whom have no clue about the better suited tools) are sometimes tweaked to serve the purpose better. Facebook is the most popular image hosting/sharing service by statistics, when there is flickr, aminus3, picasa and so many more web services specially geared towards images. In fact, facebook had to develop their own code called haystack for improving the speed of the photos component of the site. Similarly though a majority of tweets on twitter contain a link that is shared (usually containing more details beyond 140 characters) its the worst tool when it comes to archiving or searching or categorizing or browsing links. There are 3rd party services like twitturly and topsy which list URL’s tweeted by user but don’t have any additional info to add tags, categories or find out the most popular links under various tags or categories.

What really matters here is settling for popular tools often is a compromise on quality. Producers who care about preserving quality care for their content and choose dedicated services than those who care for their near and dear (often the whole set of world wide web users) and share links or images on social networks which have lost their initial purpose of turning consumers into producers of original information about stuff that matters to them and become platforms for relay-ers (err, oops) who in the end, use up time and at the same time don’t deserve credit for someone else’s work.

Now this wasn’t as quick and short as I expected it to be. You can be sure, I’ll be relaying this post via social networks but atleast its my own content. 🙂

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